The Philadelphia 76ers needed their bench unit to come and give the team a spark as the time called for it. In their season opener with the New Orleans Pelicans on the road, they needed all of the contributions their bench gave them to come away with a 117-97 victory.
Furkan Korkmaz stole the show by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter and knocking down four triples, but Andre Drummond made a big contribution as well. The Sixers inserted him in the fourth and he allowed Joel Embiid to rest for the entirety of the final stanza.
Drummond finished with six points and four turnovers, but he also pulled down 17 rebounds while making some huge defensive plays. He blocked a couple of lob attempts the Pelicans had to Jaxson Hayes that really changed the game.
“He was great,” said Embiid. “Just the rebounding. I thought in the first quarter, he got a little bit out of control, he had a few turnovers, but he corrected it in the second half. Whether it was screening to get guys open or moving the ball or rebounding which is his best attribute.”
Tobias Harris played with Drummond while the two were with the Detroit Pistons so he knows what he can bring to the table. Having the former 2-time All-Star on a veteran’s minimum deal to backup Embiid is going to come in handy when the Sixers need it the most.
“I gotta highlight Andre Drummond tonight and the way that he played,” said Harris. “The game could switch up and go a different way if Jaxson Hayes catches two of those lobs during that game and excites the crowd. The hustle back that Andre had and his willingness to rebound the basketball and just play smart for us. A lot of those plays didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but those are momentum plays that can make or break a game.”
For the role that the Sixers have Drummond in, he can look like a steal in free agency. He can come in and just provide a ton of energy in short bursts of minutes while allowing Embiid to get some legitimate rest. At the end of the day, that is what matters the most.
“I just think his energy out there,” Harris continued. “I said it from the signing, but Andre Drummond as a backup 5 is a steal for us as a team and I think to be able to have that talent to come in behind Joel, that’s tough for other teams to go against. We’re just trying to build, it’s one game. We’ll take it, but there’s a lot of growth we can take from this game as well to push us on out.”
It’s only the first game of 82, but this is an effort that coach Doc Rivers and the team can build on.
“That’s why early in the year, you extend your bench,” Rivers stated. “That’s why you do it. It’s so important for your team and, obviously, you got to watch the score while you’re doing that as well. I just thought Drummond defensively, he got his hands on a ton of plays. He’s back to being up, being quick just very proud of him.”
This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!